Everybody’s heart still pumping from nearly getting caught by Finn? This week was a close one, but the majority chose: C.  Open the freaking box already!!!!!

So hitch up your panties and cross your fingers, girls, as we get ready to open that box…

Chapter 12: To Find Out What’s In That Box, Turn To Page 346

As you continue to berate yourself for letting Jacob’s notes fall into Finn’s sweetheart-calling-test-cheating enemy hands, your eyes are drawn back to THE BOX of Neil, for which you risked life and limb. At least it felt that way…

Fingers still shaky, you pull the box from your book bag and set it on your lap.Okay, deep breath. As your thumb presses the latch to open the box, you seriously hope the thing isn’t booby-trapped to shoot you with poisonous arrows or a puff of Anthrax or something. You let out a nervous giggle, realizing that real life is beginning to catch up to your always over-active imagination. Maybe that’s not a good thing. Maybe I should put this box back, dump Jacob’s book in the garbage bin, and go home to a nice cup of hot cocoa…

But by the time that thought has surfaced, it’s too late. The box is open, and the first thing that catches your eye… is a picture of YOU!!!! You are simultaneously thrilled and freaked out by this. I mean, as far you know, NO boy has ever had a picture of you in his locker, but then, what IS Neil doing with a picture of you in his locker? Is this guy a crazy stalker? Ohmigod, you hope he is not a crazy stalker!!! You look more closely at the photo, and realize it was taken of you sitting out in the quad reading a book at lunchtime… alone. So that means it was taken AFTER Kayleigh stopped being your friend. Your mind registers that all in all it wasn’t a bad photo, but you wished you’d maybe had some makeup on that day…

Okay, so who took that photo? You don’t recall Neil walking around with a camera, and again, why on earth would he have a photo of you in a box of stuff that also includes… you look down and see a small vial of liquid. You pick it up, and try to read the label, but it isn’t even in a language you recognize, much less understand. For some reason, you slip this into the pocket of your jeans, as you look at what’s left in the box: a stake.. (!)… okay, you’ll process that later… and a folded up piece of newspaper. You unfold the newspaper and scan the article that is a report from some town south of Milwaukee, (okay, Milwaukee? And you thought you lived in podunksville!) where a group of teenagers believed to be involved in some sort of “cult activity” were all found dead. Well, morbid much? Okay, what does that have to do with everything else?

Then you remember what Neil said about being ‘sent’ here because of what Finn and Heather were doing. And speaking of which, you remember that Finn is on his way to show Heather Jacob’s notes! Mind still reeling, you quickly put the photo and article back in Neil’s box, and grab your bag before heading back out into the hallway. You put the box back in Neil’s locker, and turn to go, when you hear footsteps coming up the hallway to your right.

You duck back into the bathroom as you hear a voice, “Yeah, Finn. Got your message, and I’m on my way. I’ve been tied up with your little freak. I swear, Finn, I think she’s just about outlived her usefulness. If we don’t make this happen soon….gah! Whatev… I’ll see you soon.” The click-clack of her knock-off Jimmy’s fade away as you peek out the bathroom door. This is it; your chance to follow her and try to find out what’s going on once and for all. As you stealthily walk down the hall in the direction Heather retreated, a sound catches your attention.

“Psssst!” You turn in the direction of the sound, and see Jacob leaning around a corner. “Come here!” he whispers, as he peers in the direction Heather just went.

Do you:

A.  Shoo him away and keep following Heather by yourself?

B.  Go to him, because maybe he’s following Heather, too, and you could probably use some backup? And, um, you’ve got some splainin’ to do about how Finn got those notes.

C.  Give up on following Heather, and instead call Neil? It’s time to discuss the contents of that box– specifically a certain photograph of you.

Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.